A few days ago, the Rebels went to Pittson, PA to face the last place team in the East Division, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. These two teams have met twice already when WBS came to Jamestown, NY back on October 26th and 27th. That meeting went very well for the Rebels as they finally got their first weekend sweep of the season. While the Knights have been struggling early on this season, they swept the Rebels last season in the playoffs when they came to the Revolution Ice Centre. The Rebels last win at RIC came on March 15th by a final of 7-3. The tides have turned though as the Rebels are in hot pursuit of second place and the Knights are just trying to keep afloat.
The first of two games between these two teams was very lopsided. The Rebels peppered University of Minnesota-Duluth commit Zach Stejskal in the first period, putting up twenty shots and only allowing four. Two of those twenty shots the Rebels put up found the back of the net thanks to Alex Frye and Jake Felker. The pressure was relentless from the Rebels as they were winning a lot of board battles and not allowing the Knights to enter the slot for easy shots. Almost halfway through the 2nd period the Knights were finally able to beat Noah West as they scored on a 4-on-3 power play. The Knights came into this match-up with the second-best power play in the league but only managed to go 1/6 on Thursday. Frye recorded his second goal of the game after he got on a breakaway and wristed one right past Stejskal. With a 3-1 lead and the edge in shots 36-12 after 40 minutes of hockey, the Rebels were in the drivers’ seat to start the third. In the final period of regulation, the Knights tried to piece together a comeback as Sacha Guillemain scored his second goal of the game cutting the Rebels lead in half. The Knights seemed to gain some wind in their sail late in the game as they knew time was about to expire but it was soon deflated as they got called for having too many men on the ice. With the Knights down by one and on the penalty kill they pulled their goalie to make it 5-on-5 hockey. The Rebels were able to enter the Knights zone and Auggie Moore scored on the empty-net giving his team the 4-2 win. The Rebels were back to their winning ways and their sticks could not be hotter as they put up 53 shots, almost a shot per-minute. As for the Knights, they only managed to put up 21 shots and that loss put them on a two-game losing streak. Noah West also recorded his first win since September 30th when the Rebels beat Northeast 3-2.
The next day started out differently as the Knights outshot the Rebels 8-7 after the first period. Though the Rebels led where it mattered and that was on the scoreboard as Noah Finstrom scored five minutes into the period. The Knights went with Stejskal again as he is their go-to-man. Whereas the Rebels decided to switch out goalies and put in Ryan Keane. Keane played all three games last week, allowing eight goals and making 63 saves. With the much-needed rest he looked sharp between the pipes. While the second period was a scoreless one, the Rebels sure did have their fair share of chances. The Knights took five penalties in the middle period and the Rebels could not convert, even with one of those chances being a 5-on-3 power play. Not even five minutes into the 3rd period and the Knights scored to tie the game at 1-1. As time went on the Knights got called for holding just 8:01 into the 3rd. Just 45 seconds later Jim Glynn scored to make it 2-1 Rebels. Being down by a goal for the second straight night was not sitting well with the Knights as they pulled Stejskal giving them a 6-on-5 with less than a minute left. As the Knights were deep in the Rebels zone trying to tie it to force overtime, Caleb Price picked up the puck and turned to face the empty net 180 feet away. He put everything on it he could, and it slid right into the back of the cage. Giving him not only his first goal as a Rebel but also in the NAHL. The Rebels outshot the Knights for the second-straight night 45-22 and won by a pair again with both final goals coming in the form of an empty net. After the loss on Friday the Knights are now on a three-game losing streak and they have only had one win in the past 11 games. The Rebels on the other hand pickup a much-needed four points and got help from the Tomahawks over the weekend as they swept the Titans. With New Jersey not picking up a single point against Johnstown the Rebels find themselves just one win away from tying the Titans for second place.
This weekend though the Rebels will host the Maryland Black Bears, both games scheduled for 7:05pm puck drop. This will be the first trip to western New York that the Black Bears are making this season. The previous four meetings between these two teams have resulted in a split series and each time the Rebels have won the Friday game and have lost the next night in extra hockey. Three out of the four games have been decided by overtime or shootout. The Black Bears split the weekend with the Generals giving the Rebels a five-point edge over them going into this weekend. Make sure to come out to the Northwest Arena this weekend to cheer on your Rebels to victory. For ticket information call 716-484-2624.